BOGOTA, Colombia

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric welcomed the announcement of an agreement Thursday by Israel and the United Arab Emirates to normalize relations, saying it will create an opportunity to promote peace in the Middle East.   

Under the accord, Israel has agreed to suspend plans to annex areas of the occupied West Bank.

The deal came after a phone call between US President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. 

“Annexation would effectively close the door for a renewal of negotiations and destroy the prospect of a viable Palestinian State and the two-State solution,” Dujarric said in a statement.  

He said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomes the agreement, “hoping it will create an opportunity for Israeli and Palestinian leaders to re-engage in meaningful negotiations.” 

Dujarric said Guterres “will continue to work with all sides to open further possibilities for dialogue, peace and stability.” 

The Palestinian leadership has rejected and denounced the announcement.  

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke by phone Thursday with Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh following the announcement of the deal.  

Haniyeh stressed support for the Palestinian leadership and Abbas in rejecting the US, UAE and Israeli tripartite announcement.  

Hamas also condemned the agreement, saying it does nothing to serve the Palestinian cause and ignores the rights of the Palestinian people. The Popular Resistance Committee stressed that the deal shows a vast conspiracy against the Palestinian people, while the Islamic Jihad Movement also decried the new deal, comparing it to a “surrender.”

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